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Tens of thousands of people rallied in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday to demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, heeding the call of the country’s newly-resurgent opposition.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.
But the sclerotic pace of political reform, a flagging economy and a widely-shared perception of government corruption have also fed anti-Keita sentiment.
On Friday, an imam led tens of thousands protesters in a prayer in a central city square, an AFP journalist saw.
Protesters then sung the national anthem and blew vuvuzela horns, with many toting placards bearing anti-government slogans.
The demonstration follows a similar rally on June 5 organised by a newly-formed coalition of opposition groups.
That coalition has since adopted the name, “Movement of June 5 movement — Rally of Patriotic Forces.”
Uniting religious leaders and civil-society figures, the coalition is channelling deep-seated frustration about the slow pace of progress and continuing bloodshed.
At its head is Mahmoud Dicko, an imam and Islamic hardliner whose political star is rising in the war-torn country.
The June 5 movement organised Friday’s protest, despite Keita’s pledge on Tuesday to form a new unity government that would include opposition figures.
Source: France 24